Jessica Dickenson, Criminal Justice

You won’t find many people as passionate about pursuing victim rights advocacy as Jessica Dickenson, a Vineland, New Jersey native graduating with her Master of Arts in Criminal Justice with a track in Forensic Psychology. From experiencing anxiety and self-doubt to presenting her research at a world-wide conference and publishing it in a prominent journal, Dickenson has flourished at Stockton and certainly made the most of her college career.

After graduating in December 2019 with a B.A. in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology and a minor in Victimology and Victim Services, Dickenson transitioned seamlessly into graduate school the following spring through the direct entry program for Stockton students.

After discovering the field of Victimology early on, she dedicated most of her academic career to pursuing victims’ rights through education, volunteering and working at domestic violence organizations, among the various opportunities of which she took advantage.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Dickenson completed independent studies on “The Impact of Victim Impact Statements” and “Female Victims, Child Victims, and Victims of Hate Crimes.” Additionally, she attended a postgraduate course on Victimology, Victim Assistance and Criminal Justice through the World Society of Victimology. She also volunteered through AVANZAR, formerly the Women’s Center, in Pleasantville after completing her Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocacy certification for New Jersey.

Some career paths require higher education as well as direct experience. Stockton has provided me with the connections and opportunities to do both.

As a grad student, she completed two graduate assistantships, worked as a research assistant, guest lectured in an undergraduate class on intimate partner violence, created an interactive workshop for academics, advocates and practitioners, and submitted a now-accepted manuscript for publication in the Journal of Applied Social Science. Not only did she present her research with Ethan Levine, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and Victimology, on intimate partner violence at the American Sociological Association 2021 Virtual Conference, she also attended the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology 2021 Virtual Conference.

“If you told me in undergrad that I would be presenting live at an academic conference in front of professionals around the world, I would have thought you had mistaken me for someone else,” joked Dickenson. She explained how challenging it was to persevere through anxiety and self-doubt to achieve all of this. With support from professors like Levine, her peers and husband, she stepped out of her comfort zone and, as a result, gained confidence as a writer, academic and advocate.

After graduation, Dickenson will continue serving as a Residential Advocate at the Center For Family Services (SERV) before she considers relocating. She is grateful to have many career paths open to her. “Some career paths require higher education as well as direct experience,” she explained. “Stockton has provided me with the connections and opportunities to do both.”